Here’s our standard disclaimer – we’re not a web company. We only “dabble” in this part of technology. In London we provide IT support to small businesses, the ‘S’ in SME, and web services is only one facet of technology.
As our clients see us as their “IT Department” (like many of their friends working in medium and large businesses would have access to), we need to know enough about websites and online marketing for small businesses to provide initial advice, education, IT training and direction.
If their needs are bigger than a simple website, or entry-level Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) campaign for example, we help them find an expert in that field. We specialise in providing general IT support and consulting in London, to companies with 1-50 staff.
The 4 main options we’d recommend you look at as a small business owner or manager getting their first, or even new, website are:
- Basic HTML;
- Drupal; or
The last 3 are what’s known as a Content Management System (CMS). This is a system that allows you to login to it via the web and make changes to your site easily. You can upload images, videos or add/change content all within your web browser.
The basic HTML website needs to be maintained or changed with a non-web based program, like Adobe DreamWeaver (at £368, this industry leader is expensive!) or (god forbid) something like Microsoft FrontPage (please don’t use this!)
We’ll run through each but the crux is – in most cases we recommend a small business use WordPress for their website.
Basic HTML website
Now with the powerful yet simple-to-use CMS (Content Management System) platforms like WordPress, Joomla and Drupel we think the total investment in a basic HTML site over the medium and long-term would exceed the CMS path.
Yes, we agree – it should be quick and simple but we don’t believe it would be by much if you used a good developer. And, the cons of going basic include:
- You can’t easily update the site yourself – you need to use website editing software like Adobe DreamWeaver as mentioned above
- You risk dodgy code – if your developer isn’t that good, the HTML they write could be bad. This hits you in 2 places:
- Visitor experience: if the site does not render well (look good) in all major browsers then you could be annoying people trying to view your site; and
- SEO – if the HTML is poor the engines could punish your website ranking
- You miss the instant SEO boost of a CMS – as the CMSs these days keep up with engine changes and optimise their platforms for this regularly
If you are going this path make sure you have a good developer that keeps up with search engine SEO changes, all the web standards (as they change all the time – as do the web browsers visitors view your site in) and the search engines (who constantly change their ‘ranking’ algorithm).
For us, this path isn’t even worth considering these days, so let’s move onto the 3 CMS options available to you.
For those of you who currently haven’t yet established their online identity here is a resource that provides in-depth online guides together with downloadable PDF’s, Word Press video tutorials, blogging platforms and reviews to help you along your way – www.firstsiteguide.com
Joomla for a small business website
From what we are hearing, Joomla is on the way out, it has fallen from grace. Based on that, and that Drupal is now leading it and growing, let’s move straight onto the second of the sub-class of “more developer-orientated” CMSs.
For more information on Joomla see www.joomla.org.
Drupal for a small business website
Certainly a contender for your site, but the main reason we don’t recommend this is it is not as user-friendly. This is important if you, or your team, want to regularly update your site (and we strongly recommend you do – good for SEO, and great for engaged with customers and prospective customers.)
Sure, Drupal is more flexible and powerful under-the-hood than WordPress, but not as easy-to-use by the layperson. So unless you have complex functionality you need for your site and/or you have more technical resources (and budget) to handle the back-end complexity of Joomla, go for it.
For more information on Drupal see www.drupal.com.
WordPress for a small business website
Our standard recommendation to small businesses in London when asked, as an IT support company, which platform for my new website we say – “go with WordPress”.
It doesn’t take and cost much to set up, looks really professional and importantly as the maintenance is easy it encourages you to invest your budget (think time as well as cold hard cash) where the greatest value is – keeping it up-to-date and publishing valuable content.
In January 2011 we talked about the success of WordPress, 6 months on and the only thing that has changed is how big and successful it is. In January around 10% of the world’s websites were powered by WordPress, now from what we can tell, it is around 38%, or more than 50 million sites (according to the WordPress stats page in July 2011) of the 131 million websites active in July 2011.
A big reason for the jump could have been from Microsoft shutting down its Microsoft Live Spaces platform in September 2010, and advising the 30 million users to port over to WordPress. This is a huge.
According to Wikipedia:
“WordPress is used by over 14% of the 1,000,000 biggest websites.”
Apart from its market dominance another reason we recommend WordPress over all these options is it is really, really easy-to-use. There are great free WordPress training videos at WordPress.TV and many more WordPress “developers” (a very loose term) these days than Drupal or Joomla.
Like apps have been a huge draw card in iPhone sales early-on, the massive and fast-growing library of plugins at WordPress is another big reason to choose this over Joomla.
Blatant Plug – we do basic WordPress websites for small businesses
As we’ve said several times in our blog, while we don’t specialise in web design, development or marketing but we need to know enough for our clients to truly think of us as their “IT Department.”
Many of our customers have asked us over time to look after their website maintenance, and creation of any new ones. This can be due to bad experiences with web companies in the past, or just a desire to consolidate all the technology “stuff” with one company as much as possible. And we’re happy to help, as long as the site is small and not complex.
Our WordPress packages for small businesses in London start from £300, so call us on 0844 414 2994 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to see if we can help.
As well as our WordPress packages Lucidica also offer a variety of IT support services for small businesses.